Getting Access to the Secrets of the Osama Bin Ladin Kill
Nicholas Schmidle has written Getting Bin Laden, a dramatic and detailed account of the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, in The New Yorker, August 1, 2011. The story shows that Schmidle had extraordinary access to participants in the operation, in the White House, the DoD, the CIA, and Special Operations — members of the latter two providing details of personnel, training, location, scheduling and travel well beyond what is usually revealed about covert actions. The persuasive spin of the account parallels that of Associated Press covering the bin Laden hunter “CIA John” which was also based on privileged access to official informants.
Highly secret meeting details and quotes by President Obama, Vice President Biden, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, Admiral Mullen, Admiral McRaven, John Brennan, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes and a number of special operations members are used to produce a dramatic narrative in which there are no failures, no journalistic counterbalance to a complex and risky operation. Even the unexpected helicopter crash is transformed into a success:
“I’m glad no one was hurt in the crash, but, on the other hand, I’m sort of glad we left the helicopter there,” the special-operations officer said. “It quiets the conspiracy mongers out there and instantly lends credibility. You believe everything else instantly, because there’s a helicopter sitting there.”
While Schmidle is an experienced journalist with service in Pakistan and elsewhere, his access to those involved in the kill’s top secret planning and operation, and his unrelenting positive spin of the story (in accord with the Obama’s campaign to valorize the singular accomplishment), could be explained by his access to his father, Richard Schmidle, a general in Special Operations and now deputy commander for U.S. Cyber Command.
USMC BGEN Rorbert E. Schmidle Jr., The Special Operations Command (SOCOM) War Fighter Conference held at the Officer’s Club aboard Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (NC). Photographer’s Name: LCPL NATHAN L. BARNES, USMC. Location: MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE. Date Shot: 3/4/2004. Date Posted: unknown. VIRIN: 040304-M-RT524-001
Lieutenant General Robert E. Schmidle, Jr.
Deputy Commander, U. S. Cyber Command
Lieutenant General Robert E. Schmidle, Jr., USMC, serves as the Deputy Commander for U.S. Cyber Command, Ft. George G. Meade, MD. As the Deputy Commander, he directs the forces and daily activities of U.S. Cyber Command. In this capacity, he also coordinates the Department of Defense computer network attack and computer network defense missions.
Lieutenant General Schmidle is a native of Newtown, Connecticut.
His command assignments include: Commanding General of First Marine Aircraft Wing, Commanding Officer of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (Experimental), and Commanding Officer of Marine Fighter/Attack Squadrons 251 and 115.
Previous operational assignments include multiple tours flying the F-4 and F/A-18 aircraft as well as serving as the operations officer and air officer of an Infantry Battalion, First Battalion 9th Marines.
Additionally, Lieutenant General Schmidle has served in the following key staff assignments: Assistant Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Programs and Resources (Programs), Deputy Chief of Staff for Integrated Product Team 1 for the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review and USMC lead for the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, Deputy Director for Resources and Acquisition in the Joint Staff J-8, Director of the USMC Expeditionary Force Development Center and the Military Secretary for the 32nd and 33rd Commandants of the Marine Corps.
Lieutenant General Schmidle graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. He also holds a Master of Arts in Philosophy from American University and is currently working on his doctorate at Georgetown University He is a distinguished graduate and prior faculty member of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College as well as a distinguished graduate of the Marine Corps War College. Additionally, he has been published on a range of topics from military history to social psychology and philosophy.
Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle, the deputy commander for U.S. Cyber Command during the Evening Parade reception at Marine Barracks Washington in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2011. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tia Dufour/Released) Date Posted: 6/3/2011. VIRIN: 110527-M-KS211-009
Nicholas Schmidle, Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow, schmidle[at]newamerica.net
Nicholas Schmidle, May 12, 2009. Source